‘MIND diet’ may slow brain ageing by 7.5 years: Study

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Published: August 10, 2015 8:02:34 PM

Eating a group of specific foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals - known as the MIND diet - may slow cognitive decline among ageing adults by 7.5 years, a new study has claimed.

Eating a group of specific foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – known as the MIND diet – may slow cognitive decline among ageing adults by 7.5 years, a new study has claimed.

The study by researchers at Rush University Medical Centre shows that older adults who followed the MIND diet more rigorously showed an equivalent of being 7.5 years younger cognitively than those who followed the diet least.

The study evaluated cognitive change over a period of 4.7 years among 960 older adults who were free of dementia on enrolment and averaging 81.4 years in age.

During the course of the study, they received annual, standardised testing for cognitive ability in five areas u2014 episodic memory, working memory, semantic memory, visuospatial ability and perceptual speed.

Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist, and her colleagues developed the MIND diet, which is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

As the name suggests, the MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.

Both have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke, researchers said.

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and five unhealthy groups u2014 red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day u2014 along with a glass of wine u2014 snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week.

The study found that to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of cognitive decline, people must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week).

Berries are the only fruit specifically to be included in the MIND diet.

“Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris said, and strawberries also have performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function,” Morris said.

The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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